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Ekiti Poll: SERAP Sues INEC For Failing To Prosecute Vote-Buyers

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for “failing to prosecute those suspected of vote-buying and electoral bribery during the recently concluded Ekiti State governorship election”.
According to reports, there was a brazen pattern of vote-buying and electoral bribery in several polling units during the recently concluded Ekiti governorship election, including bargaining prices for votes and payments made in uncompleted buildings.
In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1189/2022 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court, Abuja, SERAP is seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel INEC to seek and obtain detailed information about reports of vote-buying by the three leading political parties in the 2022 Ekiti State governorship election”.
SERAP is also seeking “an order of mandamus to direct and compel INEC to promptly and effectively prosecute those arrested, and to bring to justice anyone who sponsored, aided and abetted them”.
The organisation accused agents of the three dominant political parties in the state (Ekiti), namely All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Social Democratic Party (SDP) of vote-buying during the governorship election, alleging that voters were offered as high as N10,000 in exchange for their votes.
It described vote-buying as a threat to fair and representative elections, adding that “Vote buying amounts to undue influence and improper electoral influence”.
SERAP argued that, “Vote buying encourages poor governance and weakens citizens’ capacity to hold their ‘elected officials’ accountable for their actions.
“Vote buying undermines the ability of INEC to discharge its responsibilities under Section 153 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended), paragraph 15(a) of the third schedule of the Constitution, and the Electoral Act 2022”.
SERAP also said that, “When political candidates or their sponsors decide to buy the support of the people rather than contest fairly for their votes, there are possibilities that such candidates and sponsors will show a disregard for democratic rules and a disposition to adopt illegal means becomes inevitable”.
The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers, Kolawole Oluwadare and Opeyemi Owolabi, read in part: “Vote buying is entirely an act of election malpractice connected with vested interest since an election can be said to be free and fair when it is devoid of vote buying.
“Ending impunity for vote-buying and electoral bribery would contribute to free and fair elections. A corruption-free electoral process is essential for building public confidence in the electoral process, and the credibility and legitimacy of the 2023 elections.
“One of the people’s most sacred rights is the right to vote. INEC has a constitutional and statutory responsibility to ensure the effective exercise of the right of all eligible voters to participate in their own government in free and fair elections.
“Preventing and combating vote buying and electoral bribery would advance the people’s right to vote and to participate in their own government, as well as bolster the ability of INEC to effectively discharge its constitutional and statutory mandates.
“Many years of allegations of vote-buying and electoral bribery and entrenched impunity of perpetrators have undermined public confidence in the electoral process.
“Prosecuting allegations of vote-buying and electoral bribery would be entirely consistent with the Nigerian Constitution, the Electoral Act, and the country’s international human rights anti-corruption obligations.
“Agents of the three dominant political parties in the state, (Ekiti) namely All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Social Democratic Party (SDP), were reportedly involved in buying votes across the state, and voters offered as high as N10,000 in exchange for their votes.
“The Nigerian Constitution provides in Section 14(1)(c) that, ‘the participation by the people in their government shall be ensured in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.’
“Section 145(2) of the Electoral Act provides that, ‘a prosecution under this Act shall be undertaken by legal officers of the Commission or any legal practitioner appointed by it”.
No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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RSNC GM Tasks Medical Practitioners On Emerging Pandemics

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The General Manager of the Rivers State Newspaper Corporation, Publishers of The Tide Newspaper, Chief Ernest Chinwo, has called on medical practitioners in the country to assist the government find workable solution to the array of emerging pandemics, including COVID-19, Lassa fever and monkeypox currently ravaging the country.
Chinwo said this in his office during a courtesy call by organisers of the Rivers State Joint Health Summit 2022.
Represented by the Acting Chairman of Editorial Board and Supervising Editor, Mr Nelson Chukwudi, the general manager also stressed the need for the health professionals to come up with private sector-driven health insurance scheme for the country.
He said that it also behoves on them to pool resources together with a view to building mega hospitals in the country to stem the tide of medical tourism abroad while at the same time curbing brain drain.
The general manager also tasked them to check the incidence of quackery in the medical profession.
Chinwo commended them for the proposed summit, assuring of the cooperation and support of the corporation, especially in providing adequate coverage to their activities.
He said the corporation, since inception has been on the forefront in publicising health issues, stressing that it was against this background that a page was dedicated in The Tide newspaper for health, and called for medical experts to contribute to the robustness of content on the page.
He further noted that beside newspaper publishing, the corporation also does all kinds of commercial printing jobs, and solicited patronage from the health professionals.
Earlier, Secretary General of the Rivers State Joint Health Summit, Dr. Joseph Olawuyi, said the summit with the theme “Repositioning HealthCare services in Rivers state” earlier proposed for the 22 to 26 of August 2022 was moved to October 2022 to ensure mass participation by both government and non-governmental organisations.
Olawuyi said the summit which is being put together by private medical practitioners in partnership with government aims at refocusing the health sector for quality service in the state.
He said a lot of people both within and outside the country have started registering for the summit.
According to him the event will also be used to train health practitioner’s on biomedical engineering as well as encourage the utilization of abundant medical equipment by practitioners.
He urged for a health bank in the country to create access to soft loans by health practitioners.
Olawuyi said the event which will be declared open by Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike will be attended by people from all walks of life including members of the armed forces amongst others.

By: John Bibor & Oreoluwa Adigun

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FG Spends N18.69bn Daily On Subsidy, Minister Confirms

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The Minister of Finance and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has disclosed that Nigeria spends N18.69billion daily on petroleum subsidies.
She stated this, yesterday, when she appeared before the House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating oil subsidies.
The minister claimed Nigeria consumes 64million litres per day, and that the figure could have been influenced by smuggling.
Ahmed said the executive is also concerned about the increment in daily consumption.
She noted that some of the products are being smuggled outside the country, adding that during COVID-19 locked down, daily consumption dropped significantly.
She stated that the president alone cannot take the decision on removing subsidy, insisting that there must be a multi-stakeholder approach, including all political parties, who must sit to make the decision.
The minister disclosed that the landing cost of petroleum is N448 per litre and that the NNPC takes care of the rest through under recovery.
She further said the Federal Executive Council has also expressed worry about the figure presented by the NNPC, adding that as the Minister of Finance, she has no access to the bank statement of the NNPC.
The Chairman of the Committee, Ibrahim Aliyu, questioned the figure provided by the minister.
Aliyu said even during the COVID19 locked down, Nigeria was still consuming high volume, which according to him was not logical.
He claimed the daily petroleum consumption was about 32million litres.
But the minister responded that she is not sure whether daily consumption has doubled and not also sure if the total number of vehicles in the country has doubled in the past 10 years.

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Over 20 Countries Arrive Abuja For 2022 INAC

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The 2022 International Arts and Crafts Expo (INAC), themed “Networking Nigerian Crafts to the World”, was, yesterday, declared open in Abuja, by the Director-General, National Council for Arts and Culture, Otunba Segun Runsewe.
The 15th edition of the Expo holding at the Abuja Sheraton Hotels & Towers has in attendance no fewer than 25 countries and eight states in Nigeria.
Some of the countries already on ground include Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Venezuela, Syria, India, Philippines, China, Iran, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, Malaysia, Benin Republic, Sudan, Lebanon, South Korea and Tanzania.
States in Nigeria that have arrived Abuja for the annual international event are Lagos, Ogun, Akwa Ibom, FTC, Kaduna and Katsina.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Runsewe said the aim of the expo is to better project Nigerian crafts to various countries of the world given that our stories are better told by us. It is also to promote cultural exchange programmes and improve inter-country collaborations in music, arts, drama, etc.
The expo, as usual, is expected to amongst other items, feature skill acquisition trainings for young people, free medical examination and care, display of countries art documentaries, exhibitions of countries’ arts, crafts and culture.
Runsewe said: “This is another opportunity we have to showcase Nigerian crafts to the world and to let the world know that Nigeria is a safe place to be. We want Nigerians to know that the creative industry is capable of tackling Nigerian insecurity problems by engaging the youths in our crafts for revenue generation.”
The 2022 expo holds from August 18 to 20, 2022.

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